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Lion King 1 1/2 Package Art
  Vicarious Visions

Lion King 1 1/2

I remember – fondly even – some of the Disney licensed games from the NES, Genesis and SNES era. Games like Duck Tales, Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Aladdin and the original The Lion King. They were all average to above-average platformers. Well animated, challenging and entertaining.

The Lion King 1.5, published by Activision and developed by Vicarious Visions, is a throwback to those old school, licensed platformers. It features Timon and Pumbaa, side kicks from the original Lion King movie, in an original platformer designed for the Game Boy Advance. The story comes from the movie of the same name, which is a direct-to-video spin-off of sorts of the original box office smash. So what I’m saying is this is a licensed game based on a direct-to-video Disney property. If I haven’t lost you already… read on for a short review of a short game to find out whether or not you should give The Lion King 1.5 a chance.


2-D and sprite-based. Two of the most glorious hyphenated terms in the English language I say; which biases me when it comes to the visuals in The Lion King 1.5. I was impressed to say the least. It’s hard to judge the graphics on a tiny Game Boy Advance screen (which is why the Game Boy Player was invented… I need to hook my Gamecube up again soon), but the game is quite pretty. The colors fit the movie(s) and the sprites all move fluidly. Although many of the sprites repeat with some gentle palette swapping, the game is short enough that it can’t bother you. The game even features unlockable scenes from the movies. Most of these are short, but it’s an interesting feature nonetheless.


I would like to describe the music as Meh, but that isn’t fair. I don’t believe most Game Boy Advance owners listen to music when they play. Knowing that, I think the music is the least important aspects in the game. Thus I give it the least attention when I’m playing. When I write a review – like this one – I have to pay attention, though, which means I’m usually more critical than is necessary.

Music and sound effects in The Lion King 1.5 are simple and cartoonish. The music is derived from the African derived music of the movies. It has an upbeat feel to it most of the time and doesn’t distract you too horribly from the actual gameplay. I would have liked more audio effects from the movies and the characters, but what is here feels sufficient.


The Lion King 1.5 is short and easy. I would say notoriously easy, but I doubt many other people have reviewed the game. The game play takes elements from classic platformers like Super Mario Brothers, Battletoads and The Lost Vikings, and puts them together for an enjoyable pastiche that is… well… short and easy.

The game is split up into three basic types of levels. There are the straight platform levels where you lead Timon or Pumbaa through a level. There are also the cooperative levels, where you control Timon and Pumbaa – switching back-and-forth with the select key. Finally, there are the reflex levels where you press A, B or Forward to avoid obstacles, make jumps and general ensure the always running Pumbaa doesn’t fall into the thorns too much. There are also time limited bonus levels that can be unlocked if you collect all of the coins… err… bugs in each level. Nothing is ever too challenging that you can’t beat it after a second or third try. And the game can be beaten in three hours or so. This is, incidentally, more than twice the length of the movie.




I don’t understand why games for children are designed to be less challenging today than there were in the 8-bit and 16-bit era. I was (more of) a child ten years ago, and I was able to beat them without the difficulty being set to effortless. But I guess kids today are far less intelligent than there were a whole decade ago. The Lion King 1.5 isn’t a bad game. I actually thought it was a lot of fun. It is well-animated and entertaining, but it was just unforgivably easy. If you’re under 12 years old or you’re looking for a game for your child – this is it. If you’re a Disney fanatic… buy this game. For anyone else there is probably not enough here to hold your interest. In other words: fun, but not incredibly so.

final score 6.5/10

Staff Avatar Mark Martinez
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"Unless you're being ironic, turn that off."

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